Estimation of the refractive index structure parameter from single-level daytime routine weather data

A. van de Boer, A.F. Moene, A. Graf, C. Simmer, A.A.M. Holtslag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Atmospheric scintillations cause difficulties for applications where an undistorted propagation of electromagnetic radiation is essential. These scintillations are related to turbulent fluctuations of temperature and humidity that are in turn related to surface heat fluxes. We developed an approach that quantifies these scintillations by estimating Cn2 from surface fluxes that are derived from single-level routine weather data. In contrast to previous methods that are biased to dry and warm air, our method is directly applicable to several land surface types, environmental conditions, wavelengths, and measurement heights (lookup tables for a limited number of site-specific parameters are provided). The approach allows for an efficient evaluation of the performance of, e.g., infrared imaging systems, laser geodetic systems, and ground-to-satellite optical communication systems.We tested our approach for two grass fields in central and southern Europe, and for a wheat field in central Europe. Although there are uncertainties in the flux estimates, the impact on Cn2 is shown to be rather small. The Cn2 daytime estimates agree well with values determined from eddy covariance measurements for the application to the three fields. However, some adjustments were needed for the approach for the grass in southern Europe because of non-negligible boundary-layer processes that occur in addition to surface-layer processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5944-5960
JournalApplied Optics
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • obukhov similarity functions
  • water-vapor
  • optical turbulence
  • sonic anemometer
  • surface fluxes
  • energy-balance
  • temperature
  • radiation
  • land
  • heat

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